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• Create black gold
Composting is simple, fun and strangely satisfying. Maria MacRae, manager of Backyard Habitat Programs for the Canadian Wildlife Federation, points out that compost is a great eco-friendly way to add microorganisms and lots of nutrients to your lawn and garden.
Plant a wide variety of plants close together. The pests of one are frequently the dinner of the pests of another, so it’s far easier to keep them in check. As MacRae says, “A diversity of plants will allow you to attract in more predators of pest species. This goes for attracting birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. They will pay you back for your generosity by eating up all those creatures that are eating your plants.”
• Leave grass clippings
As they decompose, they add nitrogen to the soil, which is what most of us want to add when we use fertilizer. Leaving grass clippings also stimulates earthworm activity, which is also good for your lawn.
• Cut high
Another simple way to help your lawn grow healthy and thick is to set your lawn mower so it cuts high. Taller blades of grass absorb more sun, are better at pushing out weeds and conserve moisture by better shading the soil. Aim for three to four inches. Or aim for cutting off only about one-third of the grass height at each mowing. Any more stresses the grass. Cutting a third of the height also leaves clippings that decompose quickly.
• Plant smart
Plant deciduous trees so that they shade the west side of the house, providing shade in the summer and letting sun through in the winter. To keep your garden green, make sure you choose drought-tolerant native species that won’t require a lot of water. You’ll reduce carbon dioxide emissions by roughly six kilograms annually for each tree.
• Water wisely
If you must water, do it the eco-friendly way by watering in the evening or early morning, when it’s not evaporating so quickly. And use a drip or soaker hose to get water to the roots where it’s needed.
• Push the mower
The new generation of reel mowers are far less clunky than the mowers of your youth but still give you a workout – and cost from $80 on up. Plus they emit nothing but that satisfying slicing noise.
• Organic fertilizers
If your lawn still needs help, go green by going organic. Organic fertilizers decompose and release their nutrients more gradually than synthetics and thus nourish lawns more steadily over a longer period of time. They generally cost a bit more but keep toxic synthetic chemicals out of our family’s bodies.
Learn about 10 ways to pest-proof your garden organically.